July 22

Acts 23:1-11

The commander that arrested Paul doesn’t understand what Paul has done wrong. He doesn’t want to interrogate a fellow Roman, so he decides to release Paul to the Sanhedrin. The commander does not leave Paul to the Jewish council, but is watching the proceedings and later rescues him from the angry and violent Jews (verse 10).

Paul addresses the council, saying he has lived in good conscience. In response to that statement, Ananias commanded that Paul be punched in the face. Paul was not a weak man, and he even though he was outnumbered, he responded, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” A whitewashed wall meant that someone appears clean because the surface is painted but the actual structure is faulty. In other words, a hypocrite.

Then Paul was accused of reviling the high priest, but Paul did not know it was the high priest who gave the order. However, the mob was ready to tear him to pieces with their own hands. The Roman commander removes Paul – a Gentile showing more compassion on Paul than his own countrymen. The religious of works and the message of grace are at odds with one another. It should not be shocking to us when religious Christians show less compassion than someone who is a kind sinner when we carry a message of grace and truth.

When I first was baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues, the church I was a part of did not believe in speaking in tongues. The pastor of that church, who thought he was doing the right thing, told me to stop speaking in tongues or leave the church. I knew my experience was real and from God. I knew it was in the Bible, and I knew the man did not have the revelation I had. I was not emotionally hurt by his rejection of me and my experience. I prayed for the man to have the same revelation of what was available to him, but I also understood it would require a humble heart of faith to receive it. I moved on, and left that man to the Lord. Sometimes God releases us from a place, but that doesn’t mean He stops working on the people we left behind. We can love people and let them go.

Psalm 36-37

Psalm 36 is a psalm that contrasts mankind’s wickedness and God’s righteousness. Apostle Paul quotes verse 1 to show both Jews and Gentiles are in need of salvation. Verse 7 says, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” Trust is not usually given until intention in known. When we know God loves us, then we know He can be trusted.

When ministering the Gospel to others, truth must be conveyed with God’s love; otherwise, it will often be rejected.

Psalm 37 is an acrostic or alphabetical psalm. Most psalms are written to God, but this poetic piece addresses men and women concerning the surrender and obedience of faith toward God. Much of this chapter mentions possessing what God has promised, and not just owning, but taking territory and dwelling in that possession. To me, dwelling in the land speaks to me living in an upright position in God through Christ. He is mine, and I am His.

In verse 5 David writes, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” The Hebrew word for “commit” means to roll over, to yield. When we turn over our concerns from our control to His, He is able to take it and perform His will. If we hold onto it, we often limit what God is able to do. He’s not going to force us to include Him. We need His grace, and His grace operates when we are in that reliance of faith. Faith involves trust, surrender, and obedience. God cares about us and the things that concern us. We can cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7). Let’s turn over our finances, our health, our wellbeing, our children, our loved ones, and anything else we try so hard to hold onto. Even well-meaning Christians can think they are in faith through determination in prayer, fasting, confession, and other actions; however if the heart position is from control rather than surrender, those actions are just works. We trust and then we act. We certainly have our part of obedience to give God our best, but there is a different if our actions are based on our strengths or His.

Verse 11 says, “The meek will inherit the earth (see Matthew 5:5).” The meek are those who take their strength and yield it to God and others. It’s a quality of faith.

Verse 23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way.” Another word for “ordered” is established. God will establish steps. Steps describe a journey, not a one-time move. Life is often a process, and in the process, each step is established, or set, by a God who prepared the path before we ever went down it.

God moves through hearts of faith.

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